By Blair Qualey
The provincial government recently published a report that summarizes the various input British Columbians provided to the BC Standing Committee on Finance 2023 pre-budget consultation.
As expected, the wish list is extensive, and government now has the challenging job of addressing the needs and wants of British Columbians.
For its part, the New Car Dealers Association of BC was among the many groups that appeared before the Committee, seeking government attention in several specific areas, including the critical labour shortage facing the sector and ongoing funding to maintain B.C.’s leadership position in zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) adoption.
The report by the Committee makes a series of recommendations that address these priorities, including the following:
Trades and Innovation – Recommendation: Increase core funding to trades training providers and ensure skills training is available and accessible throughout the province; continue to develop and consider strategies to drive innovation, sustainability, apprenticeships, and trades, working with industry as a trusted partner to drive new programs and initiatives.
This recommendation is key to B.C.’s automobile sector, which faces a critical labour shortage, with industry projecting the need for 20,000 workers over the next decade. The NCDA currently works with the Industry Training Authority, WorkBC and other labour agencies, and recommends that continued funding to support apprentice and jobs training programs are critical to the industry and consumers.
Zero-Emission Vehicles – Recommendation: Leverage all incentives to increase the accessibility of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), including expanding charging infrastructure, supporting mechanic training programs for servicing ZEVs, developing battery recycling facilities and developing regional and flexible plans that are adaptable both to the unique challenges of small and remote communities and high-density urban areas.
This recommendation is vital to BC maintaining a leadership role in EV adoption through ongoing support of the CleanBC Go Electric vehicle purchase rebate program along with key investments in critical charging infrastructure where people live, work and play. The NCDA is proud to administer the electric vehicle rebate program on behalf of the provincial government. Despite the pandemic and supply chain issues, more than 18,000 rebate transactions were processed last year. Today, there are more than 70,000 ZEVs travelling our highways and in the first half of 2022, 14.6 per cent of new vehicle sales were zero emission vehicles in B.C.
Of course, recommendations are merely that and there is no guarantee how they may materialize in the form of policy of funding. However, government has proven to be a valuable partner and our submission is focused on building on areas in which we have enjoyed collective success.
As government now begins the process of actual budget decision-making under a soon to be new Premier, we have every reason to be optimistic because these measures will be part of the solution in keeping our economy moving in the right direction by supporting an increasingly green economy.
Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.